CARES Act to pay restaurants for free, delivered senior meals

Fusian is a local Ohio chain that builds custom sushi rolls for their customers. CONTRIBUTED

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Fusian is a local Ohio chain that builds custom sushi rolls for their customers. CONTRIBUTED

Older Ohioans who are unable to prepare meals and lack meal support at home or in their communities could get free meals from local restaurants through a new program with local area agencies on aging.

The Ohio Department of Aging recently announced the program which was developed with money from the CARES Act. Local restaurants participating in the program receive reimbursement from these funds for the meals they provide to eligible participants.

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“This program serves three purposes,” ODA Director Ursel McElroy said in a statement. “It spurs local investment in an economic sector significantly impacted by COVID-19; it increases small-business restaurant investment; and it meets the increased demand of older adults needing nutrition services.”

The short-term program is designed to serve older adults with the greatest economic and social need. It places special emphasis on low-income older adults. It also focuses on older Ohioans living in rural areas; those with severe disabilities; those with limited English-speaking ability; and those with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders.

Participating restaurants must have 50 or fewer employees, be able to produce meals that meet industry-standard nutritional guidelines, and deliver meals to participants, either directly or through community partners. Meals may be hot, cold, or frozen entrees and are available for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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For more information about the Staying Healthy program or nutrition services for older adults, contact your area agency on aging. Call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving your community or visit to look up agency contact information.

Staying Healthy is a companion initiative to the Staying Connected daily phone check-in service the department launched in May.

For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

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